40 Years of MGB

In September 1962 the BMC (British Motor Corporation) launched their replacement for the MGA sports car. The MGB was larger and more comfortable and weighed in at a basic price of £690, plus £259 purchase tax (a lot of money in the 60's!). Fortunately, two months later on 5 November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced the rate of purchase tax from 45 to 25 per cent, making way for a more affordable British sports car.

It was a golden age for sports cars with the Austin Healey 3000, E-Type Jaguar, Lotus Elan all available although at higher prices. The MGB proved popular thanks to its top speed of a heady 103 mph, overall fuel consumption of 28 mpg and an affordable price of £834. Competition at the time came mainly from the Rootes factory with the Sunbeam Alpine, which was not quite so fast or economical. Competition also came in the shape of the pretty Triumph TR4 which was slightly faster although more thirsty on fuel.

1.jpg (52262 bytes)Nobody envisaged the MGB would be so popular, surviving 10 years after its natural car life, spanning 18 years and half a million cars. Inevitably the MGB became a classic in its own right, also becoming the most popular British car to be sold in America, albeit with the infamous rubber bumpers in later years.

Today there's still great enthusiasm for the B encompassing dozens of British MG clubs. Most of these will be in attendance at the special celebrations to be held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire on Sunday 4th August 2002. Entry will be free for drivers of MGs.

Special guest on the day will be Don Hayter who joined the MG Company from Aston Martin in 1955 as chief body design draughtsman, and was responsible for the styling of the MGB. He will be sharing many of his memories and experiences from this period at the celebrations.

Facts and Figures:

  • 1928: The MG Car Company was established in Edmund Road, Oxford
  • 1962: MGA replaced by MGB, using the BMC B-series 1.8 litre petrol engine
  • 1963: Paddy Hopkirk and Alan Hutcheson driving a long-nose MGB came 12th in the 24-hour Le Mans race
  • 1965: The GT body, a hatchback style coupé was launched
  • 1967-9: An MGB derivative was the short lived six cylinder MGC – only 9,000 were made
  • 1973: MGB GT V8 was introduced with 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine
  • 1974: All MG models received a face-lift with rubber bumpers to meet US legislation
  • 1977: USA sales of MGB increased 33 per cent in a year to 22,902
  • September 1979: BL announce closure of MGB production at Abingdon
  • BL decline offers from Aston Martin to sell the MG name
  • July 1980: MGB production ceases at Abingdon
  • 1981: On-the-road list prices: MGB roadster = £6,127; standard GT = £6,595; MGB LE Tourer = £6,445; LE GT = £6,937
  • 1981: Henry Ford II acquired the last of the US MGB Limited Edition roadsters

Links: [links]MG|mg[/links], [owners]MG[/owners]

Comments (7) Join the discussion on the forum

  • gnomesmith 29 Jul 2002

    Over a period of five years until 1972 I did some 120K miles of road, sprint, hillclimb and auto test in a 2.2 litre B. Used exhausts, clutches, brake pads, a water pump, Konis, petrol, oil and nothing else. Always started and stopped, hood kept the water out, heater kept me warm. It was no Elan but held the road, went around corners, was pleasing to drive and did everything it said on the box. Sold it for more than half of what I paid for it and it still looked good. I couldn't have asked anymore of a car. MGBs did well at Le Mans and other races and now do very well on the historic rally scene and in club racing.

    Why is it then that most people go out of their way to knock the most sucessful sports car ever to come out of these isles?

    PS. BGTs are cheap, have amazing spares availability and are simple to work on, they have to be a very sensible buy for economical every day use.

  • Dave_H 29 Jul 2002

    I've owned my 71 GT since 1988 and everything gnomesmith says is true.

    I've restored and developed it a lot over the years and it's now the most reliable car I own, and more tail happy than my TVR S3

    It's up for sale now sadly (in PH ads) but I'd always recommend them, I've had lots of fun in mine

  • gnomesmith 29 Jul 2002

    It looks very nice Dave and a very sensible spec, a bit cheap though, John Thornleys old MGBGT has just been sold at auction for £131,250.

    Buy Dave's car before he puts the price up to match!

  • Dave_H 29 Jul 2002

    quote:

    It looks very nice Dave and a very sensible spec, a bit cheap though, John Thornleys old MGBGT has just been sold at auction for £131,250.

    Buy Dave's car before he puts the price up to match!



    As much as I'd like, I can't ask THAT much, I also don't have the "MG1" number plate as John had

  • MikeyT 30 Jul 2002

    quote:

    It looks very nice Dave and a very sensible spec, a bit cheap though, John Thornleys old MGBGT has just been sold at auction for £131,250.

    Buy Dave's car before he puts the price up to match!



    Was this John Thornley, ex-factory who had a blue MGBGT (later one although with the earlier vertical slat grill and used to bear the no.plate MG1 when I lived in Abingsdon 20 years ago?)

    How much? Was the no.plate restored or original

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